Posted Monday, 22-Apr-2019
Evolution: The Beginning is a 30 minute card game for 2-5 players where you must feed your species and protect them from predators, or they will go extinct.
Players add traits and population to their species to protect them from carnivores. You can also choose to be a carnivore that hunts the animals feeding at the watering hole. Watch out for the defensive horns!
Open the box, and you’ll find a rule book,
a large, glossy player aid
5 drawstring bags and a cardboard watering hole
and 174 food tokens.
The box insert is sturdy and nicely illustrated.
The well laid out rule book and upgraded components, like the durable reference sheet instead of plain paper, and the printed drawstring bags, show that everything was done with the players in mind.
The watering hole is placed in the center of the table, with the food tokens nearby. Each player chooses a food bag. The cards are shuffled and placed into a draw pile. No sorting or dividing needed!
On your turn, you’ll move two food tokens from the supply to the watering hole. One card from the deck goes face-down in front of you, and three cards go into your hand.
Placing a face-down card in front of you starts a new species, with a population of one. Placing another card on top of that card adds one population to that species. Greater population means greater food requirements during the feeding phase, but you can also lose some to predators or starvation without losing the whole species.
Placing a card face-up above a species adds that trait to that species. Traits may help protect that species from carnivores, or affect how it eats during the feeding phase.
Any cards not played are kept in your hand until your next turn.
During the feeding phase, each population card must receive a food or it will starve. Species eat from the watering hole unless they have the carnivore trait. In that case, they will attempt to eat another species (your own or another player’s).
If a species has no more population cards, it goes extinct. The trait cards from that species are discarded, and new cards are drawn into your hand.
All of the food that was eaten this round is placed into the food bag. Food in the food bag is one of the ways to score points, so be sure to eat as much as you can.
The draw deck acts as the timer for the game. Play through the draw deck, then shuffle the discard pile to create a new draw deck. Finish the round so that everyone has had the same number of turns, and then score points for food in your food bag, cards in your hand, and all cards on the table.
Like Evolution and Evolution: Climate, Evolution: The Beginning is a stand alone game, but is shorter and less complex than either of the others. Population is tracked directly with the cards, requiring fewer components. Set up is quick and easy.
Evolution: The Beginning is available for less than $20, and has components that are above what you might expect at that price point, especially the drawstring bags complete with artwork from the game.
The rule book is clear and nicely laid out. The illustrations are top-notch.
Because the game allows one player’s species to eat another player’s, there is some direct interaction in the game. In terms of game length, complexity, and player interaction, it is similar to Machi Koro or King of Tokyo.
If you are looking for a 30 minute card game that’s easy to set up and easy to play, with great artwork and a bit of player interaction, give Evolution: The Beginning a try.
More in the series from North Star Games:
Evolution: Flight is an expansion to Evolution.
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